Dealing With Environmental Challenges

milehigh_7

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It is no secret that Las Vegas is a difficult place to grow anything. So there are many things that I am trying to do to overcome the challenges of heat, wind, very low humidity.

The things I am doing are faster draining soils, screened growing pots (pond baskets, colanders etc), very frequent waterings, avoidance of radiant, reflected heat and shade.

To that end I started Saturday and am almost done with a gazebo with a shade cloth roof as opposed to tarp and an automatic overhead watering system. This will provide my plants with full morning sun and increasing levels of afternoon shade plus the reliable water in the hottest parts of the day.

Of course I have to add a special thanks to Al for the suggestion of two products that will greatly benefit this effort, cloud cover and humic acid.

What have you all done to overcome the environment where you live? Any further suggestions for me?
 

pauldogx

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Just a question--obviously you want the fastest draining mix possible--but because of your conditions, wouldnt you want a soil/substrate that holds a bit more water that usual???
 

milehigh_7

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Just a question--obviously you want the fastest draining mix possible--but because of your conditions, wouldnt you want a soil/substrate that holds a bit more water that usual???
I certainly don't have it all mastered but what you don't want is soggy soil because you will end up with boiled (a slight exaggeration ) roots. It seems that things go best when the soil nearly dries between waterings (however frequent they are). My organic component is pine bark which does hold a fair bit of water. So far this seems to be working pretty well but that is why I have put it out for others who are far more experienced to correct/ add to what I am doing.
 

pauldogx

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ok--I hadnt considered the water heating up in the pot!! It gets hot here in PA in the summer but not Vegas hot!!!
 

meushi

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Environmentally speaking, I am on the opposite side of the spectrum ;)

The biggest problem here is to keep them from drowning most of the year, so I use purely mineral fast-draining substrates with screened growing pots and keep most trees under a roofed section of the terrace. They get full sun most of the day and don't get rained on too much when it pours.

I'd rather have to water a bit more for the few dry weeks than lose more trees due to lack of oxygen in the pot.

We also have a few interesting challenges, like going from -13F to 86F to 14F over the course of two weeks or still getting snow up till June some years.
 

milehigh_7

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I think I forgot to add that last Wednesday we had SNOW in the Las Vegas valley and today we are to top 90F (32.2C).

I have always been impressed with Jerry Meislik's efforts doing bonsai where he lives.
 

subnet_rx

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It gets very hot down here too, but I chose things that grow in my area. Seems like you could somehow keep the pot cool so the roots don't overheat using some type of radiator system that circulates water or air around all of them without it getting to the soil or leaves. I find that using a fast draining soil (Turface) and watering twice a day keeps the root system cool. A timed watering system around the roots set to water for a few minutes every few hours would probably do the same.
 

irene_b

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Being in South Texas we all have learned to adapt.
These are just a few of the ways we have adapted:

Deeper pots
White Towels around pots (covering the roots as well as the pot)
Misting often
Spag Moss on top covering all the soil
Shade cloth with greater protection numbers
Trees sitting in a bed of gravel/on ground/or in trays with gravel added to raise roots out of water.
A missed day of watering here means death to a Bonsai...
Mom
 

Smoke

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I think I forgot to add that last Wednesday we had SNOW in the Las Vegas valley and today we are to top 90F (32.2C).

I have always been impressed with Jerry Meislik's efforts doing bonsai where he lives.
We hit 95 today. Las Vegas is a hot place but so is much of the American southwest. Here in the central Valley the heat gets trapped in here with no escape and we broil sometimes for weeks at 106 or more. My trees will just shut down and do not grow. They basically go into heat induced dormancy. As long as they get watered they do fine. Last of August they wake up and I get the new spring with a whole new push. That is why I am able to bring plants along so quickly with two growing seasons per year.

Sounds like Irene covered many of the ideas used in hot places to keep plants cool. Try one or all of them and you should be able to grow most all the same as anyone else in the southwest.
 

Boondock

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using pots with a very light surface color to reflect solar radiation, and smaller drainage holes could help with water retention.
 

FrankP999

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Have you thought about a drip irrigation system for efficient use of water combined with misting sprinkler heads to cool things down?

Frank
 

milehigh_7

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You might also consider a reflective shade cloth. Works better than the standard black because it reflects the heat. Aluminet is one example: http://www.greenhouses-etc.net/equipment/aluminet.htm
This looks like excellent stuff! Thanks for the link. I am currently using the light tan from Home Depot. It is 75% shade and I put the lighter side out to reflect. It is approximately the color that is used here on the site.
 

milehigh_7

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Being in South Texas we all have learned to adapt.
These are just a few of the ways we have adapted:

Deeper pots
White Towels around pots (covering the roots as well as the pot)
Misting often
Spag Moss on top covering all the soil
Shade cloth with greater protection numbers
Trees sitting in a bed of gravel/on ground/or in trays with gravel added to raise roots out of water.
A missed day of watering here means death to a Bonsai...
Mom
Excellent! There are a bunch of things here I have not tried yet. Thanks!
 

milehigh_7

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We hit 95 today. Las Vegas is a hot place but so is much of the American southwest. Here in the central Valley the heat gets trapped in here with no escape and we broil sometimes for weeks at 106 or more. My trees will just shut down and do not grow. They basically go into heat induced dormancy. As long as they get watered they do fine. Last of August they wake up and I get the new spring with a whole new push. That is why I am able to bring plants along so quickly with two growing seasons per year.

Sounds like Irene covered many of the ideas used in hot places to keep plants cool. Try one or all of them and you should be able to grow most all the same as anyone else in the southwest.
Thanks Al! It is encouraging to know that you are in a climate close to mine. We also get that summer "dormancy" and a second "spring". I have had increasingly better results the last few years. We will see what happens.
 

milehigh_7

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How about some of you that deal with other challenges? Cold? Wet? Let's hear how creative you all get to do this.
 

meushi

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In my limited experience, cold is not really an issue as long as the substrate is relatively dry. Species quoted as "no lower than 14F" survived -14F for a few days without any problem as they were relatively dry and protected from the wind. The biggest issue is that those trees woke up as soon as the temperature hit 59F.

For pines, during the heavy rain season, I build a sort of slate tepee on top of the pot to drive off as much rain water as possible... the needles get soaked but the roots stay on the dry side while getting extra heat as soon as the rain stops.
 

bonhe

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So there are many things that I am trying to do to overcome the challenges of heat, wind, very low humidity.

The things I am doing are faster draining soils, screened growing pots (pond baskets, colanders etc), very frequent waterings, avoidance of radiant, reflected heat and shade.
QUOTE]

Did you notice that the collander doesn't heat up its soil much comparing to the plastic or ceramic pots? I think there is something to do with the collander's drainage ability. Bonhe
 

bonhe

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I don't like to use the shade cloth in my garden just because of its esthetic. For me, the East side of the home is a premium site for the bonsai because it receives morning sun only. However, I also use some of landscape trees on the East side as barriers for bonsai needed protection after transplanting or needed the cool place in Summer. Whenever I stay home, I always check the sun movement trend to adjust the place for bonsai in the coming week. (Some trees need more sun light, some don't)

The size of the soil particle is also needed to consider. With the shallow pot, I would use more small particles in my mix. Bonhe
 
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